How to Get a Merchant Account
Fewer and fewer people carry cash these days, so one of the first questions new business owners ask is, “How do I get a merchant account?”
Where do I start?
All of the confusing rates and advertisements make it seem like a complicated process to get a merchant account, but it’s probably easier than you think to open a merchant account and start accepting credit cards right away!
At Payment Depot we can fill out most of the application with you over the phone in less than 10 minutes.
Then we email you a link to complete the application and submit to us. You should have an approval within 24 hours and you can be processing credit cards in about 2 days. We have one of the easiest merchant account applications in the country!
What Information Do I need to Provide to open my Merchant Account?
- Physical Business Address- The bank requires a physical address and it can’t be a PO Box. This can either be a store front, office, or home as long as it is a physical location.
- Federal Tax ID number- Unless you are a Sole Proprietorship you will need to provide your Federal Tax ID number so the bank can complete the approval.
- Voided Business Check- This is for your own protection. Since money will be transferred in and out of your account via ACH, a voided check is required to ensure that the processing bank has your correct banking information on file.
- Social Security Number- The US Patriot act requires that every merchant account be connected to the individual who signs for the account since money will be changing hands electronically. The bank will run a credit check on the signor as part of the approval process, but this is not the only criteria that they will use. It is mainly used for Identity verification.
I was just approved, what should I expect now?
That was easy! Now that you’ve been approved and are ready to start accepting credit cards, how do you start processing credit cards? First, you’ll receive your credit card machine in the mail in just a couple of days, complete with simple instructions on how to swipe credit cards, process returns, and “batch out” your account every day.
At the end of each day you will close out your batch and your money will automatically be deposited into your bank account within 1-2 business days. Then at the end of the month you’ll receive a statement from your processor that will show how much you processed and how much your total fees were. When processing credit cards, there are fees that come from the card brands (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) that are unavoidable and there are fees that come from your processor.
Interchange and assessments are the rates and fees set by the card brands and they are the True Cost of processing that must be paid by everyone. Everything else comes from your processor. Account Fees, Minimums, PCI fees, Statement Fees, Regulatory fees, and Mid and Non-Qualified fees all come from your processor, unless you’re with Payment Depot, because we don’t have all those fees!
You can’t control the true cost of credit card processing, since that comes directly from Visa and Mastercard. So anytime someone offers you a fixed rate they’re blending the true cost into that rate and penalizing you when the true cost is more expensive. You can read more about that here.
It’s much easier than you think to get a merchant account, and most of it can be done over the phone in less than 10 minutes. The sooner you call, the sooner you can be accepting credit cards for your business.